Lonville Gunmetal GMT
Recently, Angus Davies seized the opportunity to wear the Lonville Gunmetal GMT. Produced in very limited numbers, this timepiece provides a representative insight into a fascinating Swiss watch brand.
This detailed review of the Lonville Gunmetal GMT includes live images, specification details and pricing.
The association of cars with watches is similar to that of gin and tonic. Quite simply, they go together. Numerous watch brands choose to sponsor formula one teams, knowing that scores of petrol-heads will succumb to the charms of an octane-rich timepiece.
Over the years, watch brands have aligned themselves with car companies, creating dual-branded watches. Indeed, the perfect accompaniment to a brand new car is a matching watch, sporting the name of a luxurious horological maison.
Lonville understands car owners often have a penchant for watches. Its founder, Joost Vreeswijk, has a profound liking for classic cars and regularly organises road trips for likeminded souls. Furthermore, several of his brand’s watches make reference to the world of cars.
However, setting aside the company’s association with the automotive world, I was keen to discover what lay behind the high-revving veneer of this small niche brand. Recently, I had the opportunity to wear a Lonville watch and appraise its specification at close quarters.
The gunmetal grey dial exudes an air of gentility, augmented with a seemly sunburst dial decoration.
Dauphine style hands indicate the hours and minutes with clear tone. Their style is eminently classical, according the dial with a degree of formality more typically found with a dress watch. Each hour is marked with an applied, triangular facetted index echoing the styling of the hands.
At 6 o’clock, a snailed subdial displays the running seconds. Within the confines of the subdial, the words ‘double barrel’ are proclaimed, an indication that this watch possesses an impressive power reserve.
Adjacent 9 o’clock, a recessed section of dial plays host to the power reserve indicator. A swooping scale and smattering of red tone inform the wearer of the state of wind. Next to the power reserve indicator is a 24-hour GMT display. The idiosyncratic fusion of the 24-hour GMT display with the power reserve indicator results in an off-centre skew to the dial design. While ordinarily I would favour a dial blessed with a symmetrical layout, I actually find the quirky design of this Lonville Gunmetal GMT quite endearing.
Lonville has judiciously employed flourishes of red tint to the dial. The tip of the GMT hand, the ’24’ gracing the GMT display and a section of the power reserve indicator all feature a soupçon of the vibrant hue. This application of colour would not look out of place on the dashboard instruments of a classic car. The motoring symbolism is omnipresent.
The chapter ring combines neat strokes and Arabic numerals. Reading off the minutes is effortless. Although on the 24-hour GMT display, the small seconds overlaps the central area of the dial, making it challenging to read the hours from 0900 to 1500.
Positioned at the base of the dial are two words, ‘All Swiss’. By making this statement, Lonville has set aside the usual words ‘Swiss Made’. This latter phrase has sometimes resulted in so-called Swiss watches containing a high quotient of non-Swiss parts. Clearly, Lonville wishes to differentiate itself by claiming that 100% of its watches originate from Switzerland.
The 40mm 18-carat white gold case is an exemplar of understatement. It does not try to compete with the dial, but deferentially assumes a quiet role. Most of the case surfaces are highly polished, save for the case-band which features a vertical satin brush. This surface treatment softens the overall appearance of the case, preventing it from appearing unduly flamboyant.
Lonville, by virtue of its limited production, is exclusive. Furthermore, because the brand only makes 18 pieces for each series, a further degree of exclusivity is conferred. During my time with Joost Vreeswijk, I enquired why the brand limits production to only 18 pieces. His answer confirmed the man’s obsession for cars. The winner of Le Mans in 1953 was a Jaguar C-Type with the number 18 on its bonnet and remains a car Vreeswijk covets to this day.
The lugs of the case are narrow, as if they have been honed in a wind tunnel. Their lithe profile exude an air of elegance.
The black alligator leather strap is paired with a deployant. Once again the clasp is satin-brushed, matching the finish on the case-band.
The hand-wound movement has been crafted by Swiss movement specialist, Schwarz Etienne. It is visible via the exhibition case-back.
Six bridges are chamfered, adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and feature a plethora of blued screws. The two spring barrels are decorated with snailing, while the jewel sinks shine resplendently. The finishing of the movement is to a high standard, underscoring the overall elevated quality of this timepiece.
The movement contains thirty eight jewels and the power reserve is sufficient to deliver 96 hours of autonomy. This watch is a certified chronometer (COSC), independently attesting to its precision.
As I have grown older, I have become increasingly cynical about marketing hyperbole. It is therefore with a degree of scepticism that I view any new entrant to the watchmaking scene. However, beyond its associations with motoring, the Lonville Gunmetal GMT has real intrinsic value.
Indeed, each aspect of the ‘All Swiss’ construction, brims with quality. The dial is composed of various elements and features numerous layers which heighten its allure. The legibility of the dauphine style hands is excellent, while the sunburst dial decoration confers wonderful eye appeal.
Examining the white gold case, one is able to discern the silken smoothness of its form. The tasteful blend of highly polished and vertically brushed surfaces grant a seemly appearance, sitting comfortably alongside the dial. No part of the case detracts from the presentation of time. In fact, there is an overwhelming sense of cohesion with the design of this watch.
Lonville has been very open about the source of its hand-wound movement. It has not got hung up about ‘manufacture movements’, choosing to utilise a fine calibre imbued with impressive finishing.
Petrolheads, as well a watch enthusiasts, can be rest assured that the Lonville Gunmetal GMT is a fine timepiece, blessed with an array of attributes. While it is clearly inspired by the world of classic cars, its relevance is not merely restricted to automotive enthusiasts. Based on my experience, the Lonville Gunmetal GMT should appeal to all individuals who appreciate great design and fine craftsmanship.
- Model: Lonville Gunmetal GMT
- Case: 18-carat white gold; diameter 40mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; GMT display; power-reserve indicator
- Movement: Hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 38 jewels; power reserve 96 hours
- Strap: Black alligator strap with deployant
- Price: CHF 23,900 excluding VAT (price as at 4.4.2018)
- Limited Edition: 18 pieces